Something about Stillness 

When my nails are wet I struggle to find the patience to sit still long enough for them to dry.  Suddenly things involving my hands are very important, like adjusting the waist band of my pants to hold in my fupa, or rearranging the contents of the refrigerator so I don’t forget to eat something before it goes bad the next day.  There is always one finger that I have to paint over and over again, despite my greatest efforts to only grab things with the palms of my hands, fingers stretched out straight.  I just can’t sit still.

When I lie in bed at night, I wriggle and fidget and scratch.  Some nights are worse than others, and I am overcome by an all over itch.  It pricks me in one spot, and then another.  Scratching to satisfy the itch only sends it somewhere else. Lower legs, middle back, left eyebrow, back of the head.  It’s as if my brain is playing Simon with my body, lighting up the spots for me to get to next.  Some nights are worse than others, and I know I am in for a long battle before sleep finally comes.

What is this restlessness?  Is it possible that my mind cannot find stillness and my body therefore suffers?  Lately I have started using an app on my phone to guide me into sleep.  I’ve never really spent much time meditating before, and the silly feeling creeps in that I might be doing something wrong.  Growing up I had the same question about prayer.  How did people know what to do?  What to say?  It was not a thing I was taught to do, or that was expected of me, and so I never developed it as a habit or a practice.

But practice is what they call it when you meditate.  I am practicing the quieting of my mind.  I am practicing the strengthening of the link between my mind and body.  “Shut up” I say.  I know that’s not the greatest mantra, but it’s all I can think of, and like with prayer, I never learned how to do this.  I know when I practice yoga, I feel it.  With movement and breath I feel it.  But something about stillness prevents me from finding peace. My mind becomes defiant, battling the quiet with obsessive and circular thoughts; my brain sends signals to my body that cause me to tear at my own skin with my nails until it hurts.  To the point where I find myself at 9 pm, 10 pm, 11 pm looking for something else to do to avoid the painful struggle that is falling asleep.

Maybe I should work out more.  Physical exhaustion to slow down the mind.  Maybe I need to get back on the wagon of eating clean again.  Maybe I should cool it with the self help and career advice books that do more harm than good.  I am constantly stressed that I’m not happy enough, I’m not hustling enough, I’m not picky enough about how I use my time.  Depending on where I look, I can find a reason why I am not enough, and it is wearing me down to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it and can’t sleep.  I need to figure out how to rid myself of the tendency to overthink literally everything.  But maybe I won’t try too too hard to figure it out.  Maybe that’s the ticket.

2017 Goals

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Image via Drew Ellis, found on Pinterest, obvi.

We’re fast approaching the end of 2016 (phew!), and now is the time that many of us are making resolutions for next year.  Somehow it seems more important and serious this time around, as if suddenly a switch has been flipped inside of me, and I now understand the consequences of inaction.

Most of my goals for next year focus on financial stability and growth.  I want to pay off my credit cards, and make room to start saving towards our goal of buying a home.   Of course, I want to make sure I’m working enough to afford to do all of that.  If possible, I would love it if the work was rewarding and fun, but I won’t get ahead of myself here…

Aside from that I’m trying to prioritize my efforts so that they fit into the following three categories.  I’m going for improvement, not perfection, with happiness as the main goal. Continue reading “2017 Goals”

New Specs

 

When I was nine years old, I started having trouble seeing the black board at school, and discovered I needed glasses.  It was most likely, my mom told me, the result of reading in the dark at night under my covers when I was supposed to be sleeping.  Whoops.   Back then, there were no trendy plastic frames to choose from, and being the kid in class with glasses was just really something I did not want to be.  When I got my braces two years later, I blossomed completely and irreversibly into a full blown awkward pre-teen.   Now would be an appropriate time to share a photo, but I’ve done my best to destroy them all.  

As I grew up into my teens and early twenties, the glasses on my face changed with me, but they were always there.  It became a part of my identity to be the slightly off beat girl with glasses.  People likened me to Daria, and I didn’t necessarily correct them.

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Summer 2004.  In addition to my glasses, my daily look at this time also featured smudgy raccoon eyeliner and a lip ring.

Sometime during college, I converted fully into a contacts person, and aside from the few times I’ve run out and been too lazy to order more, I’ve stayed that way.   Until lately. Continue reading “New Specs”

The Whole 30: Round 2

IMG_0370I know it’s a little bit trendy right now to talk about the Whole 30 and sing it’s praises (or not), but as I get deeper and deeper into it, I feel compelled to share my experience this time around.  As I write this post, Day 24 is coming to a close.

I first did a Whole 30 a few years ago, after suffering from chronic back pain, poor sleep quality, and low energy levels.  I was in the midst of working full time and going to graduate school, so I was a total stress monster, having major mood swings, fits of hanger, and I cried all the time.  Like, all the time.  I heard of the program through some blogs I followed, and thought it was worth trying.  But aside from gaining a higher awareness of food and learning to experiment more with my cooking, I didn’t really see the results I was going for.  MJ on the other hand, shed weight like it was his job, even though he didn’t have much to lose to begin with.

I think my life at the time was too stressful to allow a program like the Whole 30 affect me.  It is about overall wellness, not just physical health and nutrition.  It even says it on the cover of the book, “It Starts With Food“.  But it doesn’t end there.

In the two years since my first round, I have watched with excitement as the world of food slowly caught on.  I am finding more and more “compliant” items at the grocery store, and I am coming across more resources online and on social media.   With the wealth of information and tools that have since become available, I felt like it was time to give it another go.  And so, on January 1st this year, in lieu of a New Years Resolution, I began my #januarywhole30.  (Ok, I know that hashtag will do nothing here, but I’ve been using it on Instagram.)

The Reasons

The reasons I had for doing the Whole 30 a second time were similar to the first time.  I was still suffering from chronic back pain; I was beyond lethargic in the mornings, pressing snooze as many times as I could get away with; my hanger rages were getting out of control.

Oh, and if I said that weight loss wasn’t a factor in my decision to do the program, that would be a lie.  In general though, I don’t like to admit it.  I would describe myself as “skinny-fat”.  I look thin in my clothes, but what I get to see in the mirror every day is a much different story.  It’s seriously no fun sitting at work all day trying to adjust the front of my pants in an effort to squeeze in my bloated fupa.  Plus, I’m getting married in five months, and figured embarking on a healthy lifestyle is much more sustainable than a diet.  Permanent fupa deflation > temporary fupa deflation.  

Another thing on my side this time around is that my life has calmed down significantly in the last year.  I’m done with school (woohoo!) and am living a much more active life than I was able to just a few years ago.  I knew I would be able to take the challenge head on and have no excuses to fail.

The Results

What a difference a few years can make!  Because I went into it feeling armed with knowledge, it has hardly felt like a challenge at all.  I feel my skin is brighter and more clear, and that pesky extra weight around my waist is slimming down.  A recent shopping trip left me feeling good about myself and what I saw in the mirror, resulting in many outfit selfies.  That is not always the case.

But most significantly, I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING!!  I have not hit snooze one time since beginning my second journey with the Whole 30.  You have no idea how big of a deal this is to me.  Every single morning for my entire adult life, I lay in bed with my eyes squeezed shut, feeling worthless for not just being able to get up and go.  Not to mention the disastrous rush in the morning that results from getting out of bed late.   I cannot tell you how many years of resolutions, pages of entries in my journal, and yoga practice dedications have been unable to solve this problem.   I literally popped my eyes open on Day 4 ready to get up and ready for work.

The Food

I’m sure everyone on Instagram is sick of my food pictures, but I don’t care.  It feels like bragging a little bit to overshare, but I just want everyone to know that this is not deprivation.  The food I am eating is delicious, I look forward to every meal (because I’ve planned ahead and know what it will be), and I am full and satiated after every meal.  I rarely feel the need to snack.

I find recipes on the Whole30Recipes Instagram Page, I’ve become a loyal follower of NomNom Paleo, and when inspiration strikes, I just make it up.  I also like to modify recipes that my mom gives me to make them compliant.  Usually it’s just a matter of swapping or eliminating a few ingredients.

 

The Reaction

Despite all of the positive things that I have been feeling about myself and my progress, I am surprised to discover that this time around I feel less supported by my friends and loved ones.  It is almost like they see my eating choices to be restrictions on them.  At brunch recently, friends chuckled with pity when I ordered my coffee black.  My inability to drink alcohol this month makes me un-fun, and has resulted in cancelled plans and annoying comments.

It is frustrating and alienating to be treated like I am a prisoner of this program.  Certain foods and alcohol are prohibited, but that doesn’t mean fun is!  This month, I’ve gone on wintery hikes in the woods, taken my dog to the beach, gone ice skating… the list goes on.  But apparently none of that was fun because I wasn’t drinking alcohol.  Sigh…

What’s Next? 

While I know some people in my life are counting down the days to Day 31, I am wondering how I can keep the streak going.  I haven’t been going to the gym much (waiting for all the resolution-makers to give up so it isn’t so crowded!) and instead doing workouts at home.  I plan to continue eating mostly paleo, and exercising more.  In a way, I’m almost afraid for this to end, since I’m so happy with my results and I don’t want them to go away.  I will say, however, I’m pretty excited to reunite with cheese.  (Sometimes.)

How have other people made the transition back into regular life?  I’d love to hear your stories!